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Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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First published 1968 (SND Vol. VII). Includes material from the 2005 supplement.
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

PEAK, n., v. Also peek; peck (Sc. 1748 Caled. Mercury (March) 22); pick. Sc. forms and usages:

I. n. 1. A sharply-projecting point of rock, the point of a jagged rock. Dim. pickie, id.; a pointed heap of stones used as a target for shooting or stone-throwing (Sh.. Ork. 1965).Sh. 1899 Shetland News (20 May):
Da rocks wis strong, an' I could howld on ta da peeks.
Sh. 1923 T. Manson Lerwick 127:
These “old chaps,” . . . were “not above” having a pot at the scarfs, or setting up a “peek” here and there along the shore, and firing at it.
Ork. 1923 P. Ork. A. S. I. 69:
Another game we were wont to play in going home from school was the getting out on the “pickies.” These were just the rocks out in the water, around which the sea ebbed and flowed.

2. A type of lace having a pointed, scalloped edge (Rxb. 1825 Jam., 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork. 1965). Obs. in Eng.

3. A triangular linen head-scarf worn under a woman's or child's cap (Ags. 1808 Jam.). Obs. in Eng. in 17th c.

4. A gusset of a garment, a triangular flap.Dmf. 1817 W. Caesar Poems 125:
I've had you [trousers] now these hunder weeks, — But now ye've opened sae your peaks, I canna wear ye.
Edb. 1825 R. Chambers Traditions II. 59:
The peak was a deep sharp angle in the close part of the gown behind, pointing downwards.

5. Dim. peekie, a knitting-needle (Ayr. 1923 Wilson D. Burns 178); specif. one of the type formerly used in knitting Ayrshire bonnets (Ayr. 1887 Jam., ‡Ayr. 1930), hence the peekies, the bonnet-making industry in Ayrshire. Combs.: †(1) peekie belt, a harness or belt worn round the waist by bonnet-makers to support the knitting needles, a sheath (Ayr. 1948); (2) peekie body, a knitter in the bonnet industry. Also peakie, id. (Ayr. 1887 Jam.); (3) peekie bonnet, a broad, flat, knitted cap of blue, black or red wool, formerly the traditional headgear of the Scottish peasant, and still worn, in a modified form and colour, by Scottish infantry regiments and freq. by curlers, a Kilmarnock. Also peekie, id.; (4) peekie worker, = (2). Also peekie.(3) Ayr. 1912 D. M'Naught Kilmaurs 269:
The manufacture of bonnets — the old knitted and waulked article called “braid bonnets”, “Glengarries,” and locally “peekies”, — was a flourishing industry in the Kilmarnock and Stewarton districts for generations.
Ayr. 1951 Stat. Acc.3 464:
At one time Kilmaurs had a succession of distinctive industries: cutlery, horn spoons, “peeky” bonnets, silk fabrics, boots and shoes.
(4) Ayr. 1887 Jam.:
Ayrshire has long been noted for its woollen manufactures; and for at least a century its chief town, Kilmarnock, has been specially noted for its woollen caps, cowls, etc. The knitting of these articles was done almost entirely by females, called peakies or peaky workers; and only a few years ago there were in Kilmarnock and the surrounding villages many thousands of these knitters in constant employment. Now . . . every variety of knitted cap and bonnet is worked by machinery.

II. v. 1. To set up or use a pile of stones as a target, to aim (a) stone(s) at a peak. Cf. I. 1.; in 1886 quot. appar. to drive by pelting with stones.Sh. 1886 J. Burgess Sketches 13:
Liza and the new Lerwick chap were sailing across the Voe in a yoag-shell, and he was standing yelling on the beach, and trying to peek them ashore.
Sh. 1923 T. Manson Lerwick 2:
For here, when the tide was out, competitions in stone-throwing, “peekin'” and “sketchin'”, all generally ending in free fights, were of daily occurrence.

2. Ppl.adj. peakit, of lace: having a scalloped or frilled edge (Rxb. 1923 Watson W.-B.; Ork., Kcb. 1965).

3. To use a peekie in knitting a bonnet (Ayr. c.1880). See I. 5.

4. Pr. p. peaking and pa.p. peakit, peekit, pickit, of persons: having a thin, drawn appearance, emaciated, angular, gaunt and ill-looking. Gen.Sc., also in dial. and colloq. Eng.Sc. 1771 Smollett H. Clinker Melford to Phillips (8 Aug.):
Poor Liddy is in a peaking way — I'm afraid this unfortunate girl is uneasy in her mind.
Sc. 1823 Lady L. Stuart Letters (1926) 325:
She looks but peeking and has had a good deal of illness.
Sc. 1914 R. B. Cunninghame-Graham Sc. Stories 101:
It seemed as if my aunt might have gone on for ever, getting a little dryer and her face more peakit, as the years went by.
s.Sc. 1929 Scotch Readings (Paterson) 45:
'Ee're awfy peakit an' puir-like.
Abd. 1931 J. Hall Holy Man xvi.:
Would you care for a drop of whisky? You're looking a bit peekit.
Rnf. 1935 L. Kerr Woman of Glenshiels i.:
A peakit lass who didna look very strong.
Abd. 1993:
Ye're affa pickit-like the day. That's a pickit lookin calfie.
Edb. 2003:
Thon's an awfy pickit-lookin bairn.

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"Peak n., v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 20 Jun 2024 <>



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